Miami Beach strip club gets legal victory in efforts to challenge city regulations, ordinances

By Marian Johns | May 31, 2019

MIAMI —  A Miami Beach nude strip club can proceed with lawsuit challenging the city of Miami Beach's regulations and ordinances, after a federal appeals panel reversed a federal judge's decision.

According to the May 24 court filing, the appellant, Club Madonna Inc., asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida's dismissal of 16 claims against the defendant, the city of Miami Beach.

The club's lawsuit comes after the Miami Beach city manager suspended the club's license in January 2014 following law enforcement's execution of a search warrant and investigation into the club. The investigation involved a missing 13-year old girl allegedly being trafficked and forced to dance nude at the club.

Investigators alleged the club did not verify the girl's age and that a woman also dancing at the club threatened the girl while forcing her to turn over any money she had earned at the club. The city manager then decided the events created "an emergency" according to the court filing, and suspended the club's license.  

The city then enacted two ordinances in light of the events at the club designed to "regulate nude dance establishments" within city limits, according to the court record. Among the ordinance requirements, clubs will be required to verify the age of a "worker or performer," provide proof the "performer" is working "of her or his own accord," and document compensation. The ordinance empowers the city to apply fines or shut the business down over violations. 

The club's lawsuit alleges the city's ordinances are unconstitutional and vague while challenging the city's actions after the 2014 search warrant and investigation at the club, as well as the current laws at that time.  

Eleventh Circuit Court judges Robin Rosenbaum, Joel Dubina and Chief Judge Ed Carnes reversed eight of the club's counts while affirming six of the lower court's dismissals relating to due process claims with Rosenbaum stating the club's due process claims "lack the essential element that the state refused to provide the club with due process."

The court concluded that the club's allegations challenging the constitutionality of the Miami Beach ordinances, penalties and required compliances present "purely legal questions" and remanded the case to the district court.   

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